Yet another visa mill — previously identified as such in these pages — is the in the process of closing. Visa mills are lesser educational institutions that enroll large numbers of foreign students who appear more interested in jobs (legal or illegal) than they are in securing a good education.
This time it is the BIR Training Centers in the Chicago area. They have not announced their demise yet — the usual pattern so they can continue to collect revenue for a bit longer — but we do know this:
- As we reported before, BIR was flunked by the controversial accreditation agency, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS); at that time we said that the decision was appealable.
- Subsequently BIR appealed and then withdrew its appeal on May 25; the withdrawal of the appeal, as opposed to the original decision not to continue to accredit, meant that BIR immediately lost accreditation with ACICS, and thus has no accreditation of any kind. (It is possible for a school without accreditation to continue to cause the admission of foreign students, but the lack of it is a serious drawback.)
- For about a week after May 25, BIR's website continued to claim ACICS accreditation despite the loss of it. Then, a well-meaning activist, not realizing the strategic value of a long-term continuation of the false claim, told BIR about it and the claim disappeared from the site. But if you use BIR's own search tool for "ACICS" it takes one to places on the website where the accreditation is noted — a ghost index, if you will. (When you click through. most of the references to ACICS accreditation have been removed, though they remain in online pdfs of brochures dated prior to the loss of accreditation.)
- Meanwhile, the assets of BIR were purchased by the D.C.-based University of the Potomac, but not the operations. U of P secured the furniture and the equipment of BIR and, more importantly, the list of students. University of the Potomac President Rick Murphree told me on June 4 that it will open one or two U of P locations in the Chicago area. It or they will carry the U of P name, not that of BIR Training.
- The timing of the windup of BIR operations is not clear, but it is not long for the world.
The departure of BIR from the scene is happening without any direct action by any government agencies, state or federal. At some time in the future, weeks or months from now, the BIR name on the listing of DHS-approved schools will disappear, but despite everything written above, it's still on the list.
There are, of course, many other questionable schools that provide more in the way of work permits than actual education, but at least one of them is on its way out the door.